Raynes Park Vale 3 Swans 1

Saturday 23rd March 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.

Raynes Park Vale 3 Walton & Hersham 1.

A dreadful first-half performance, that led to them being 3-0 down at the break, virtually ended any hopes of Swans getting anything from a match against in-form opponents who had registered six wins and three draws in a nine match unbeaten run. With other results again going against them, their hopes of escaping relegation now look extremely slim. With the pronounced slope to be in their favour for the second-half, a two goal deficit at half-time would not have looked totally insurmountable to salvage something from the game, but a third home goal just before the break realistically ended any chance. Swans certainly improved in that second-half, and had the best of the play, but a goal when it did come was too little too late.

With Conor Symon injured and Jordan Simmons unavailable, changes had to be made in defence, but Regan Mendes was free to return and new signing Khalid Al Saud came into the starting line-up. Didi Castanho and Ahmed Elsahib also returned, and Arif Hattabi made a first start.

The home side started with the advantage of kicking down the slope, and Ato Okai had a chance on the edge of the box when the ball was driven across low from the right, but he shot over. They then had an opportunity with a free-kick outside the right corner of the box, but Nathan Lewis sent the ball wide of the near-post. Lewis had another chance following a corner on the right, but Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen just managed to get a glove on his header and the ball was cleared.

Swans had made a poor start, struggling to put any moves together and conceding possession far too easily, but they gradually began to settle more on a difficult pitch. With twenty minutes played Castanho got the ball to Hattabi on the right, and his cross was met first-time by Sean White on the edge of the box, but his low shot was wide of the right post. Pat Kirby then sent in a free-kick from the right touchline, and the ball came to Sam Marfo beyond the far-post, but he snatched at his shot and it ended well off-target. A good spell of pressure resulted in Elsahib striking a low shot from 25 yards that home keeper Ronnie Hill just managed to keep out.

Having got through their poor start unscathed, and openings of their own starting to be created, Swans began to have expectations of reaching half-time with parity, but two goals conceded in the space of three minutes dashed those hopes. With half an hour played the home side were awarded a somewhat soft free-kick on the right. When the delivery came into the box Allen looked to be unfairly challenged in the air, but the referee thought otherwise. The ball ran loose, and with Swans’ defence not responding to the danger, a shot was blocked on the line. With Swans still ball-watching James Curran had the simplest of chances to score with a low shot.

Swans response was almost immediate, and they went close to equalising. Seb Osei-Obengo struck a superb shot from 30 yards that brought a fine save from keeper Hill, who dived to his right to get the ball round the post.

But instead of being level, Swans found themselves 2-0 down. Lewis was given far too much time and space in the right of the box to turn and send a left-foot shot dipping over Allen and into the far, top corner.

Swans had an opportunity with a free-kick outside the left of the box, but Kirby’s effort went straight through to Hill.

The home side soon had a free-kick of their own, theirs outside the right of the box, but again the delivery was straight at the keeper, Allen saving comfortably.

Then, as the half entered the final five minutes, Swans conceded another soft goal to put them 3-0 down. A corner was conceded on the left, and when Nathan Chambers swung the ball in it glanced off the head of a Swans’ player and into the far, top corner for an own goal.

Now kicking down the slope, Swans quickly attacked in the second-half, and White laid the ball off to Tyreke Leslie on the left edge of the box, but his driven cross was just too high for Osei-Obengo at the far-post. Then Kirby’s free-kick from the right touchline was put behind at the far-post for a corner on the left. From Elsahib’s kick Marfo put a far-post header over. White then laid the ball off to Kirby 35 yards out, and he struck a terrific shot that keeper Hill just managed to punch away. With just under an hour played Swans forced two corners in succession, and from the second on the right Marfo got in a shot at the far-post that took a deflection.

Swans had had the best of the game in the second-half, but the home side’s direct mode of play still threatened danger, and a free-kick taken from close to the left corner-flag led to a chance being put over from close-in. Another free-kick conceded 22 yards out was then driven straight through to Allen by Jack Williamson.

With just under ten minutes remaining Swans’ Hattabi crossed high from the left and the ball dipped just over the far, top corner.

Swans finally pulled a goal back with six minutes of normal-time left, and although coming too late it was nonetheless a fine one. Osei-Obengo was found in the right of the box, and he lashed a terrific shot past Hill from a tight angle.

Another chance soon came, that if taken could well have set up a tight finish. Al Saud crossed from the left to the near-post, but substitute Ryan Smith glanced his header over. A final opportunity came in stoppage-time with a free-kick on the left, but Mendes’ looping header from Kirby’s delivery was taken high up on his line by Hill.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Arif Hattabi, Khalid Al Saud, Pat Kirby, Regan Mendes, Sam Marfo, Tyreke Leslie (Ryan Smith 70’), Sean White, Seb Osei-Obengo, Didi Castanho (Gus Lukuni 84’), Ahmed Elsahib. Subs. not used: Troy Meehan, Aaron Bryan, Simon Offei. Scorer: Osei-Obengo (84’). Cautions: Al Saud (44’), Marfo (69’), Mendes (72’).
RPV Team: R. Hill, Williamson, A. Harland-Goddard, Curran, Dowdswell, Alderton (Turner 57’), Holmes, T. Harland-Goddard (J. Hill 80’), Okai, Chambers (Gwam 70’), Lewis. Subs. not used: McKillop, Jordan. Scorers: Curran (30’), Lewis (33’), Own goal (41’). Caution: Okai (89’).